Loudoun County, VA (May 13, 2015) – Loudoun County authorities say five men from Sterling are facing felony animal fighting charges. Juan Romo, Hector Romo, Israel Gomez, and Antonio Bermejo were arrested May 6, 2015. Authorities are still looking for Jamie Bermejo Gibrann. The men face up to five years in jail or the possibility of a fine of $2,500.
On March 17, 2015, Loudoun County Animal Services officers were called to a property in Sterling regarding a complaint that a horse was being cruelly treated, which was unsubstantiated. Upon investigating the initial complaint, however, the officer observed a large number of roosters on the property that were being maintained in a manner consistent with animals used in cockfighting. Several search warrants were executed at four different properties in Sterling and Leesburg in connection with the investigation. Evidence was seized from the properties consistent with cockfighting, including devices and substances intended to enhance an animal’s ability to fight or inflict injury on another animal. Officers with Animal Services worked with deputies and investigators from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and Leesburg Police Department during the investigation.
Cockfighting is an illegal activity in which roosters are specifically bred for aggressiveness in battle. The animals are pitted against one another in a fight to the death. Roosters used in cockfighting are trained and conditioned to inflict maximum injury against their opponent. Performance-enhancing drugs are administered to the animals to bolster their aggressiveness.
“Officers with the Loudoun County Department of Animal Services are trained to recognize and respond to incidents of animal fighting. The animals involved in these cases pay the ultimate price for the participant’s cruelty and negligence. Our officers are trained to combat this senseless violence and exploitation, not only on behalf of the animals involved but for the general well-being of the community as a whole. This type of violent criminal activity will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Animal Services Chief Mark Stacks.
Anyone who has information regarding suspected animal cruelty or animal fighting is urged to contact the Loudoun County Department of Animal Services at 703-777-0406. As in this case, an unrelated animal cruelty complaint could lead to the discovery of alleged criminal activity beyond the initial complaint.
Rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in dogfighting or cockfighting are made available through organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Anyone who has information about illegal animal fighting may call the HSUS animal fighting tip line at 877-TIP-HSUS and their information will be kept confidential.
The Loudoun County Department of Animal Services is located at 39820 Charles Town Pike, Waterford, VA 20197. For more information on how to help animals in Loudoun County, visit www.loudoun.gov/animals.